June 2015 BootcamperS of the Month: Claire and David!

Meet Claire and David! One of the best things about having a co-ed bootcamp is that we get couples who are getting fit and feeling amazing together! Claire stumbled upon us in a park and we invited her to join us and we are so glad she did. Claire and David are an inspiration to the 6am High Park crew and to anyone who thinks they are too busy to exercise!


How has being an FFG Bootcamper changed your life?
With 4 kids of our own, aging parents, demanding careers and a very gregarious cat named Max,  it would be easy to let our fitness programs lapse. In fact, 6:00 a.m. is about the only time of day that we can both be sure we are available. Fit Feels Good gives us a challenging and fun fitness It allows us to be at the top of our game and meet the challenges life throws at us. And it’s a GREAT thing to do as a couple.


What do you do when you are not Bootcamping?

We live a very hectic life from sunrise to sunset every day. We’re very involved with our kids, parents, careers, volunteer activities and so much more. In our spare time (whatever that is), Claire loves to garden while David is very involved in several volunteer pursuits. We also love to dance, watch a great movie, and when possible, read.


What’s your major fitness goal right now?

We did the Alpha Obstacle Course last year and it was a blast (read here about the hidden benefits of signing up for a race)  We’d like to get in great shape to tackle that again. We also run in the Terry Fox each year and would like to expand the number of fun runs we do each year. David would also like to shed a few pounds over the next few months – Fit Feels Good will be crucial toward reaching these goals.


What about coming to Bootcamp makes you jump out of bed at 5am singing the Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music?

We love exercising as the sun rises in High Park. We look forward to whatever our excellent instructor Scott will have for us today – it’s always something new. The people we exercise with at High Park are awesome and a lot of fun to work-out with – we encourage one another and have lots of laughs.


What exercise or drill makes you cower under your bed covers and pretend you don’t hear your alarm?

For David, it is the dreaded burpee (although he’s a lot better at it now); for Claire it’s running backwards.


What advice would you give someone who is just starting out with FFG Bootcamps or just thinking about it?


Make a commitment to attend every session for at least 4 weeks. It takes a while to get into an early morning exercise routine – but once you’re in the groove you can’t imagine skipping a class. It’s completely addictive.


What is the accomplishment or personal milestone you are most proud of?

We are most proud that we have firmly established fitness as a regular part of our crazy lives. We feel younger and more energetic than most of our friends who don’t exercise.

Seize the Summer

“Does it ever seem like summers are getting shorter?

Like time is moving faster?”

I said this to my friend Cam as we waited for the Dream in High Park to start in 2004. We had a picnic and some wine and liked to get into the deep stuff. He was a fellow actor but also a sciency sort, and he told me about ‘ratio theory’.
The idea, he explained, is that time is experienced as a percentage of our total existence.  
So for a four year old,  a year represents 25% of his existence. For a 50 year old, a year is only 2% of her life, making it relatively insignificant.
I’ve thought about that theory a lot since that picnic. When it seems like my kids are morphing before my eyes, when I’m still not used to writing 2016 on cheques and the year is half over. Thinking about that picnic also reminds me that we really don’t know how many summers we have left. My lovely friend Cam died in an accident when he was only thirty years old.

So here I am at the starting line of summer… that sweet moment we Canadians wait for during the months of grumbling and scraping our cars in the dark. And I’m thinking,
“Summer 2016, I’m gonna grab you by the balls.”
Because life is short. Because summer is sweet.

Here’s how to do it:

The key is to not wake up in September and realize you forgot to do the things that are important to you. The hard part is identifying those in advance. I tackle it with Persons, Places, and Things:


You know those people that you love being with but you realize you haven’t seen them since that Christmas party? If part of your perfect summer involves reconnecting with certain people, then take action now to make sure it happens. You might be surprised to find out that your next mutually available Saturday is in August.
And then look closer to home and think about your family. Here are some of my essential family experiences for the summer:
  • One big old family reunion. Parents, grandparents, cousins, a casserole that involves cheez whiz. Let’s do this.


  • At least one romantic summer night in the city date with my husband. Bikes. Sundress. Patio (check out this list of Toronto’s most romantic patios)



  • At least one lazy afternoon in the park with my kids per week. Sitting in the sun with my bare feet in the sandbox, watching all sorts of projects and kid drama unfold. Unfortunately, I have the kind of life where I have to schedule this. But it’s happening.


What are your essential summer destinations? I need:
  • A visit to Toronto Island. My husband finds those quad bikes embarrassing but the kids and I outnumber him.

quad bike

  • A visit to a farm to go berry picking. Every year I say ‘let’s go berry picking!’ and my husband informs me we are already into apple season. That’s how in tune with nature I am. Here’s a great list of what is in season in Ontario and here’s where to get it. Advance warning: Strawberries are over in July. OVER.


  • A trip. Sure, a Euro rail pass would be great, but I’m talking about even a road trip to Port Dover, Ontario (which, by the way, has a surprisingly delightful 1950’s seaside kitch vibe). Here’s a link to some other awesome options.  (Did you know there is an Apple Pie trail? Doesn’t that strike you as an EMERGENCY?)

apple pie

  • To just be outside.  This seems obvious but we are creatures of habit. What routines can you move outside? Your lunch at work? Your workout (cough cough Bootcamps) Meetings? Your commute? Dinner? Watching the entire third season of Orange is the New Black on your laptop in the front porch after the kids go to sleep?
This is actually a picture of my sister, Shannon Duncan, doing her SEO job in the forest using a car battery and a homemade stepper for exercise. I'll just let that sit for a bit.
This is actually a picture of my sister, Shannon Duncan, doing her SEO job in the forest using a car battery and a homemade stepper for exercise. I’ll just let that sit for a bit.


Another theory of why time seems to speed up as we get older is that we measure time in memorable events. (I talk about this in my blog trying to convince you to sign up for a race) Whereas childhood is marked by many ‘firsts’ and memorable experiences, adult life tends to be more routine and a lack of memorable events causes the time to smooth out and condense.
So what things can you do this summer to create memories?


  • Throw a party. I actually hate hosting parties like most people hate exercising but I’m always glad when I do it. My favourite low-key party is bringing pizza and sangria to the park and inviting a bunch of families for a 5-7pm type thing. Easy, cheap and no clean up. Perfect for a June school night.
  • Run a race. Or tackle a section of the Bruce Trail each weekend. Or join a Bootcamp and commit to going every day. Do the Ride for Heart. Learn how to salsa. Make Summer 2015 the year you accomplished something and made yourself proud.


Most importantly, in all this summer planning, schedule unscheduled time.
There is another theory that time speeds up as we age due to stress.
The feeling that we don’t have enough time to get things done can be reinterpreted by our brains as time passing too quickly. So whether you tick off everything on your perfect summer list or not, take the time to breathe and savour every minute of the summer you have. Like this one. 🙂

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Why you should NEVER skip a Bootcamp. Ever.

Adapted from Robin Sharma’s ‘Family Wisdom from the Monk Who Sold His Farrari’ …plus a little bit of our own FFG wisdom

Consider how much discipline it takes to workout three days a week.  Think about how hard it is to keep stretching beyond our comfort zones and how challenging it is to exercise at high intensities.  Consider the self-resolve required to eat healthy foods and drink lots of water every day when temptations surround us everywhere we go. But if you have the courage to respect your body – the temple that houses your mind and spirit – personal mastery will not be far away.  It says a lot about who you are as a person when you invest the time to take care of yourself.  It says you respect and love yourself enough to do the things necessary for you to be at your personal best.

Each time you go for a workout on a day when you just don’t feel like exercising, you grow a little stronger as a human being. 

Each time you get up to go to Bootcamp on a cold winter’s morning when you just feel like staying under the warm, cozy covers, you strengthen your character.  When you endure a tough workout, it enables you to persevere through any other challenge in your life.

Working on improving your physical conditioning will not only enrich your life and make you a better person, you’ll also become a better parent, a better spouse, a better and more productive worker, and a better friend.

Exercising regularly, eating well and taking the time to relax and nourish your body will make you feel happier.  It will provide you with more energy than you have ever known. It will give you greater stamina and mental toughness and make you a clearer, stronger thinker.  It will make you more patient and loving.  There are 168 hours in a week.  Surely each and every one of us, regardless of our hectic schedules, can carve out three of them to care for our bodies and work on mastering our physical state.

You’ve got to remember that a missed workout is much more than just a missed workout:

When you miss a workout, you don’t just stay at the same level you were at – you actually take a few steps back. 

Every time you miss a workout, you have done something to strengthen the habit of NOT working out.  When you’ve made the promise to yourself to exercise three times per week and then you break that promise, you start to lose trust in yourself.  With each missed workout, you start to lose self-confidence and begin to question whether you can actually stick with it at all.  A missed workout fuels self-doubt and makes that negative habit stronger.  Miss enough workouts, and eventually that negative habit of not working out will replace the positive habit of exercising that you have worked so hard to cultivate. Every time you fail to do the right thing, you fuel the habit of doing the wrong thing.  So the next time you’re trying to justify pressing the snooze button and skipping your workout, or working through lunch instead of taking a walk break or heading right home after work instead of stopping at the gym, just don’t do it.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even allow yourself the opportunity to talk yourself out of doing what you know you need to do to be at your best.  Just remember that you’ll feel like a million bucks once you’re done.

The real challenge for most people is not the workout itself, but actually overcoming the negative thoughts that try to sabotage very good intentions.

The greatest irony of our physical life is that when we are young, we are willing to sacrifice every bit of our health for wealth, and when we grow old, we are willing to sacrifice so much of our wealth for just one day of health.  Don’t let this happen to you.  The little things in life are actually the big things and

the quality of success that you will experience in your life ultimately depends upon the tiny choices you make every minute of every hour of every day.

It’s the small daily acts and habits that define how big we end up living.  So set your alarm clocks, lay out your workout clothes and let’s do this.